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Saturday, February 19, 2005

Profiling Today's Munich's Expats

Not so long ago, the Munich expat community consisted of upper rank executives on A Very Important Mission, or at of least Very Important Managers with the task of effecting some strategically crucial change in the local version of U.S. global corporate culture. A host of relocation-related services and subservices has established itself around this breed of professionals, their spouses and families.

Today this scenario has dramatically changed in several ways:
- There are more expat professionals working within a greater
diversity of professions in Munich.
- Many do not desire or could afford White Glove Executive
Relocation Services.
- To-the-point detailed and practical data, facts, insider
tips, help and advice for expats given by expats are
available on-line to a degree unheard of, only several years ago.
- Many of today's expats are media and Internet savvy to a point
which renders traditional fee-based relocation information
services patronizing and stifling, if not redundant.
- Many U.S.expats are here, because of the networked modality of
corporate projects:

A project lead, coordinator or manager my be flown
in from the U.S. just-in-time, leading a team to
produce the target objectives and move on to even
grander things back home.

-The all-encompassing corporate tendency to have work environments appear fluid and cosmopolitan, plays an even greater role now. There may or may not be a mission critical role to play at the target destination, but everybody involved is expected to benefit from the experience such as demonstrating leadership potential by coping with reality on and *even* off the corporate compound.

Especially British personnel enjoy their stay in Munich so much, that they have founded an exclusive dining-out club only for young British expat workers. Theirs is the tactical benefit of U.S. companies putting their foot down off-shore Mainland Europe first - anywhere on the British Isles: English staff holds on tight to the opportunity to migrate here when U.S. management moves on to the mainland.

Not to be forgotten are the sought-after software engineering geniuses hailing from Dublin, who are mostly contractors, very self-sufficient and patronizing a network of creative, comfortable Irish Pubs, which are owned and operated, very fittingly, by some Dubliners as well.

In short, the Internet-enabled, self-organizing expat community is extremely resourceful. Relocation services are in dire need of adapting, if they are to survive. Lean, demand-based, just-in-time services, which factor in the Internet as a primary and free resource for many things expats need, will be the winners.

Gisela Strauss


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